Now that everyone’s finally on board with stamping out those dastardly villains in IS, Parisians can sleep easy again right?
Hoo boy… Gather ‘round, kids. It’s time to talk about rage massacres.
It’s a crime that’s very familiar to Americans simply due to its ubiquity. Angry young man, possibly with a friend, storms into some public place with a legally acquired automatic weapon and kills a dozen or so people before committing suicide, whether traditionally or by cop. It’s been going on for close to thirty years, inspiring reams of poor analysis and hand-wringing, but it’s still a fact of American life.
There’s even been some genuine insight to come out of this phenomenon: Going Postal by Mark Ames, which became required reading for every American after the bottom dropped out of the housing market in 2008. Harsh economic conditions coupled with culturally normative bullying was consistently the common factor among spree shooters in America, until cretins like Elliot Rodger and Dylann Roof started getting their ideas from 4chan.
Although that’s closer to the motives of the Paris shooters than whatever critique of Western imperialism Counterpunch has been on about for the past two weeks. Not to say you can’t blame the rise of IS and similar salafist outfits on the West’s history of back those same reactionaries when they were fighting the Muslim world’s leftist movements, but those guys are either too old or too dead these days. The jihadis menacing Europe come from the very same towns they bomb and shoot, making them less Osama bin Laden and more Harris and Klebold.
I said pretty much the same thing in the first week of hysteria and I’m going to keep repeating it since everyone has quite wrongly decided to blame Paris on Syrian refugees. You can vaporize Mosul and Aleppo with whatever big ticket munitions the NATO air forces have been itching to use and you won’t come anywhere close to actual or future terrorists. They’re all back in Brussels, plotting which public place to next showcase their disaffection with Europe, the West, and modernity in general.
Where that disaffection comes from may be easy to see but it’s near enough to impossible to fix. The immigration debate in Europe is more a failure of integration than the weight on social services reactionaries like to claim - said services need the immigrants because the natural-born population is aging faster than its reproducing. So you’ve got a de facto underclass of EU citizens subsidizing a decaying generation that sneers at them, which is already a nasty formula for insurrection.
Then mix in the shocks to middle-class sensibilities that have been going on since the 1960s in both the US and UK. The Sexual Revolution may have only turned sex into a commodity, but that’s still going too far for a lot of men - whatever their religion - who define themselves by traditional gender stereotypes. As neighbors and family said of Jihadi John, “He liked his football.”
The Charlie Hebdo attack should have made this clear, that reactionary salafists are more offended by women drivers and irreverent humor than the many Western imperial crimes in the Middle East. It takes a degree of middle class comfort and anxiety to get worked up over something like blasphemous cartoons in the first place and the Paris attacks were explicitly targeted at people daring to have a good time. Jealousy and Victorian priggishness makes for a lethal combination, especially in the fetid minds of young men. And unless the EU decides to simply liquidate those same young men, the comfortable citizens of Europe are going to be facing many more rage massacres from their own citizens, loudly proclaiming jihadist motives while clutching their blue balls.